In general, cat is a very habitual animal, because he loves his routine and does not like to change environment and daily routine.
However, you can plan your holidays with him: exactly as you would do for a dog, you can travel with your cat, but make sure to take some extra precautions to make the travel safe and comfortable. The journey can be considered a cause of stress for the cat; most dogs love to travel more than cats do. It is also important to protect the safety of your pet during the journey.
So how to travel in total safety with your cat?
You must first check several things:
- your cat should be fully healthy and able to withstand a trip. Let him be checked before leaving by your vet and if necessary update his vaccinations
- if you travel by train it is essential to have the cat’s health book with vaccinations, worming and pesticide treatments up to date and if you go abroad, or in the islands (Sicily, Sardinia, Elba Island) always remember to check that passport and rabies vaccination are valid. And find out if the destination country requires special procedures (apart from the EU pet passport), such as antibody titre for rabies or health certificates that are usually required for non-EU countries. If the cat suffers from any particular condition, you should assess if it is compatible with a safe travel, without risk; if the cat is under treatment for any reason, and remember to always have all the necessary medicines with you. Furthermore, it is always good to carry a supply of veterinary medicines, in case the cat is ill on vacation.
- the lodging where you are gonna spend your vacation accepts cats and it is safe: this means reinforced mosquito nets on the windows and doors to be closed, to prevent the cat from escaping;
How to make the travel with your cat less stressful as possible?
It always good to make your cat used to travel since he is a kitten, the more gradually the better it is. Moreover, in this way you can verify if your feline suffers from car sickness or has a fear / phobia of the car.
In these cases, you will have to try to remedy this with your veterinarian months before leaving, do not wait for the moment of departure to remind you that your cat suffers from car sickness.
Every pet should always travel in a crate or soft bag. In the case of travel by plane, train or ship, ask the transport company what size the cage should be and remember that only semi-rigid fabric-made ones are allowed in the cabin. Even when traveling by car, the cat should never be let out: if the cat goes out and gets scared, you risk ending up between the feet while driving, causing accidents, or killing under the seats (and getting him from below is a huge task!).
You can put in the crate a shirt with your smell on, spray it with synthetic pheromones that are developed to calm the animal, or an absorbent blanket in case the cat, from fear, do a little pee. If the cat suffers from car sickness, arrange with your vet what therapy to take and try to make him travel on an empty stomach (unless the journey is very long, in this case it is necessary to administer water and a little food). In the case of trips by car in the summer, then, it is advisable to keep the air conditioning on, to avoid heat stroke. Just try to make sure that the air is not directed straight on the cat. Sometimes keeping the radio on at low volume could help distract it.
The use of tranquilizers is controversial: on the one hand it must be considered that they are sedatives, therefore they could have side effects. On the other hand, you should be warned that sometimes in cats these sedatives give a paradoxically exciting effect: instead of calming the cat, you are faced with a cat more agitated than ever.
Which pet carrier to use for the journey with the cat?
We mentioned it before, it is best to use a closed, plastic or fabric sturdy crate closed, so that the cat is not too scared by what he can see on the outside. The metal ones are also fine, just cover them with a blanket. Instead, wicker carriers should be avoided: a frightened cat could dig up to break through the carrier.
What if in spite of all the above mentioned suggestions your cat is still very stressed during travel?
Then it is worth considering alternatives to manage the cat during the holidays. There are pet hotels for all budgets, although the best thing for the cat is to stay at home, with a trusted person, already known previously by the cat, who goes to feed him, change the litter box, and that he stays with him a couple of times a day while we’re on vacation. It is the least stressful thing of all for cats, and it is my first advice in case of stressful travel.